5 THINGS TO KNOW: How to spot and avoid solar energy scams

May 16—The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office and OG&E give warning to Oklahomans about scams involving solar energy equipment and services that could also affect customers of other electric companies across the state.

1 What is the scam?

OG&E customers have alerted the electric company to a recent increase in automated phone calls. One call promises thousands of dollars in rebates for OG&E customers in the wake of "new energy policy" and "mandates." The caller then asks customers to sign-up for a solar energy program saying it will "support our new mandate."

2 Is there another part of the scam?

The other call features someone claiming to be with OG&E and threatening to cut off the customers' service if they don't pay their bill immediately over the phone. Customers also have reported to OG&E an increase in door-to-door salespeople trying to sell solar equipment and falsely claiming to be partnering or working with OG&E.

3 Do power companies ever come door to door to make sales?

"We never call our customers and ask them to pay their bills, nor do we go door-to-door to enroll them in special programs or services. Despite any claims, OG&E does not have any solar panel installation partners, nor do we recommend or partner with any company selling solar generation equipment," said Aaron Cooper, manager of corporate communications for OG&E. "We understand the frustrations and impact of scams, and we want our customers to be aware and protect themselves from falling victim to the latest scam. We appreciate the Attorney General and his team for their work to protect Oklahomans from these types of scams."

4 What are some tips from the AG's office on avoiding this scam?

No reputable company will pressure you to sign up immediately;

No reputable company will demand payment upfront or in a certain format (e.g. wire, Venmo/CashApp/Zelle, gift cards, cryptocurrency);

Ignore numbers you don't recognize;

If you believe the offer might be real, go to the OG&E website and call the customer assistance line to verify;

If you miss a call from an unknown number, do not call back; and

Remind elderly friends and neighbors who may be vulnerable to these types of scams about ways to avoid becoming a victim.

5 Who do I contact if I am victimized by a scam?

Anyone who believes they may be victimized by a phone scam should contact the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General at consumerprotection@oag.ok.gov or (833) 681-1895.

—Derrick James